I have been writing for Above the Law since March of 2008. This Monday, though, will be my last day as a daily contributor. I am heading over to Forbes to write about privacy, law, social media, and technology (aka The Not-So Private Parts). For those who will miss my daily presence on ATL, please feel free to check me out there, or to friend me on Facebook, or to follow me on Twitter. I’ll also be writing a weekly column for Above the Law.
Lat, Elie, and I are going to be getting drinks after work at The Ninth Ward to help numb the separation pain. Please feel free to join us if you’re in New York. Though only if you’re not a weirdo. (You know who you are; but to clarify, weirdos are not those who would show up, but are among those who voted this up.) We’ll be there from six to eight p.m.
As many of you know, unlike my co-editors, I’m not a lawyer. I’m just a little journalist. I appreciate that, despite this moral and educational failing on my part, all of you lawyers and law students have put up with my writing about your profession. Professors Lat and Mystal have offered excellent legal lessons, as have the real law professors I have had the pleasure of interviewing. Plus, I date spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with lawyers outside of work, and so have a solid appreciation for the terror of living under the reign of the billable hour.
I also did some hourly billing myself way back when; my first job out of college in 2003 was as a paralegal in the D.C. office of Covington & Burling, an experience that convinced me not to apply to law school (despite having rocked the LSAT). During my first summer in D.C., I lived in a five-bedroom apartment in Van Ness with four summer associates — from Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Georgetown. We were five corporate law strangers picked to live in a house (vacated by the Georgetown law student’s roommates for the summer). That was where I picked up some useful stereotypes about students from these elite law schools. I came away from the summer with a strong dislike for HLS kids…
Late last month, we posed a question: Can Stanford overtake Harvard and Yale and become the #1 law school? We consulted our Magic 8 Ball, which gave this answer: “Outlook Not So Good.”
And it’s not just the Magic 8 Ball. Professor Bill Henderson, one of the leading academics studying the legal profession, constructed a simulation model of the U.S. News rankings. He used this model to figure out what Stanford Law School would have to do to top the list.
For starters, it would need to get its hands on at least $350 million dollars….
That’s one of the topics covered by an impressive trio of law professors — Richard Epstein, Glenn Reynolds, and John Yoo — in an interesting, wide-ranging discussion over at PJTV. Although they all hail from the right side of the aisle, they disagree on a number of issues. Here’s a summary:
Are law schools creating a new generation law fools? Is the bar exam the best measure of a lawyer? Are the best law schools even worth the money? Law professors John Yoo and Richard Epstein of Richochet.com discussion the legal profession on this episode of Instavision.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion takes place when Professor Reynolds mentions that he decided to attend Yale Law School over free rides from Duke and Chicago. He asks Professors Epstein and Yoo: What advice would you give to a prospective law student facing a similar choice today?
Some people — such as the many anti-law-school bloggers, or my colleague here at Above the Law, Elie Mystal — think there are too many law schools. I’m not as much of a pessimist; I take a more measured view. Although I share the concern that perhaps too many schools are cranking out too many debt-saddled graduates, releasing them into an already saturated legal job market, I think there are some perfectly good reasons to go to law school.
Should I be even more optimistic? Is it possible that we need more law schools? Maybe law degrees are like clean water or good health care: everybody needs them, so we have to make sure that every part of the country has a source.
If that’s the thinking, then this week brings some good news: a law school is coming to Shreveport. With a population of 200,145, this bustling metropolis is the third-largest city in Louisiana.
Let’s learn more about the fabulous Louisiana College School of Law….
Law schools — as Elie likes to remind readers on a frequent basis — are businesses. Like any good CEO should, Duke Law School dean David Levi has written an editorial defending his product: young lawyers.
In the National Law Journal, he starts off by acknowledging that the legal market for young lawyers is in worse shape than Duke’s reputation after the lacrosse scandal, and that this is “understandable” given the laws of supply and demand. (A subtle acknowledgment of there being too many law schools?) He then writes:
What is not understandable is the surprising amount of criticism heaped upon younger lawyers, offered as if to justify placing a disproportionate share of the economic downturn on their shoulders.
The criticism comes from law firm managers, in-house counsel and former lawyers who now comment on the legal profession…
Ahem. *Uncomfortable pause.*
They most likely represent a minority view, but they are vocal. They say that clients are no longer willing to pay for the work of young associates because their work is “worthless.” We might expect clients to make any argument that could lead to a lower bill, particularly during an economic downturn. But it is wrong and surprising for experienced lawyers inside and outside of firms to acquiesce in, even reinforce, this line of argument.
Victims of what anti-law-school bloggers have dubbed “the law school scam” might argue that working for a law school, or at least the kind of law school that saddles students with debt and can’t get them jobs, is closer to a crime than community service. There is certainly an argument that law professors who aren’t part of the solution are part of the problem.
But the notorious William Lerach, the securities plaintiffs’ lawyer turned convicted felon, believes that law teaching is a noble calling — and wants the community service credit to show for it….
We’re at NYLS and I’m in an argument with my friends for resumes for interviews with law firms.
I’m a member of MENSA and I think it’s okay to put “Member, MENSA” under my interests on my resume. Some of my friends say it’s not okay. What do you think?
– Smarter Than the Average Bear
Dear Smarter Than the Average Bear,
Let’s just cut to the chase here: listing “Member, MENSA” on your résumé is incompatible with attending New York Law School. If you don’t have the IQ or EQ to realize that, somebody needs to revoke your MENSA membership immediately and slash your tires with a Phi Beta Kappa key pin…
As of this writing, Ethan Haines, writer of the UnemployedJD blog, has gone 32 hours without food. I think the kid might be joking, but Haines said he is going on a hunger strike — to convince law schools to be more transparent about the employment options of graduates, before the schools rope them into three years and six figures of debt.
He’s even served official notice of his hunger strike on five law schools, and he’ll put five more on notice today. From his self-styled media advisory:
On August 5, 2010, Ethan Haines, self-designated J.D. Class Representative, emailed an Official Notice of Hunger Strike to administrators of ten randomly selected law schools ranked in the Top 100 of the 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. These schools were selected because they stand to gain the most from keeping the current rankings structure in place.
Ethan intends to bring awareness to the concerns of law students and recent law graduates by having them addressed by law school administrators. Their primary concerns are inaccurate employment statistics, ineffective career counseling, and rising tuition costs. The strike was motivated by a recent American Bar Association (ABA) investigate Report, which concluded that educational leaders are unable to timely combat the adverse affects of U.S. News’ rankings on legal education.
It’s a worthy cause, even if Haines’s methods seem a little tongue-in-cheek. At the very least, unemployed law graduates with mountains of debt don’t have a lot of spare money lying around for food. Might as well put all those hunger pains to good use.
And maybe he’s not joking? Like all legitimate hunger strikers, Haines has a list of demands…
It’s early August. Law students are getting ready to go back to school. And some students — lucky or unlucky, you be the judge — are going back earlier than others, to work on their schools’ law reviews.
Over the summer, rising 2Ls around the country received the rather important news: whether they made it on to their school’s law review. Serving on the school’s official law review can involve a lot of work. But it’s generally regarded as worth it, in terms of the prestige / résumé boost, intrinsic value of the experience, and networking opportunities with current and former editors. If you’ve been selected, congratulations!
New editors of the Harvard Law Review — former home of President Obama and still the nation’s most prestigious law journal, despite various incidents of ridiculousness over the past few years (scroll through our past coverage) — were notified last month, around the week of July 19. The good news was delivered primarily by phone.
The Yale Law Journal also welcomed its new editors last month, after selecting them through a Bluebook and editing competition. At a mixer I attended here in New York, for YLJ alumni and newly accepted editors, one joyous new recruit told me that he celebrated his acceptance by going out to Hugo Boss and buying shiny silver pants dress shoes. (“I went to Prada at first, but they did not treat me the way I should be treated!”)
Silver pants New shoes from Hugo Boss? Making law review is clearly a big deal.
But is the prize of law journal membership being distributed fairly? This year, at certain law journals, controversy appears to be brewing about the new editors….
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
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• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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